He didn’t say, “absolutely not.” He didn’t even say, “thanks, but no thanks.” He thanked them and asked that Allah watch over them. ” Cleric thanks followers for pledging to attack U.S. military in Iraq,” by Chelsea J. Carter for CNN, June 26:
(CNN) — Radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr thanked followers who offered to launch attacks against the U.S. military in Iraq should he reinstate his notorious Mehdi Army militia, according to a posting on his website.
The exchange between a follower and al-Sadr on his website comes as Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is talking with members of his government about the possibility of requesting American troops to stay in Iraq beyond a year-end deadline to withdraw.
Al-Sadr vowed earlier this year to “escalate armed resistance” if the U.S. military does not pull its troops as scheduled, a move that could destabilize the country should the Mehdi Army repeat the bloody battles it waged against American and Iraqi forces during the height of violence.
“We intended to be martyred, if you intend to lift the freeze of Imam al-Mehdi Army to defend Islam, doctrine and Iraq. Our martyrdom will be restricted only on activities against the infidel occupier without harming the civilians or any public proprieties,” an unidentified follower posted on the website on Friday.
Al-Sadr responded: “Thank you dears… May God preserve you and watch over you.”
A U.S. military spokesman on Sunday told CNN that, “Muqtada al-Sadr’s statement speaks sufficiently for itself about his attitude toward the use of violence as an alternative to democratic processes.”
“It’s the same attitude that has caused so much violence for the Iraqi people in the past,” Col. Barry Johnson said. “We are not inclined to characterize it further at this point.”…